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Richard Moss

Freelance writer covering technology and video games for AppStorm, Mac|Life, Polygon, and several other publications; Content Editor at Archive.vg. @MossRC on Twitter.

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Sometimes it’s good to know what’s going on beneath the hood of your Mac. Keeping track of memory and processor usage helps you manage open apps and current tasks, ensuring that your computer never grinds to a halt because you’re doing too much at once.

iStat Menus is one of the more popular apps to help you keep tabs on your Mac, with its advanced monitoring of memory usage, processor usage, network bandwidth, hardware temperatures, and much more. It just got a major new version upgrade, with a slew of new features — including history graphs, calendar events, and an improved interface — so we thought we’d take a look to see how this new release stands up.
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We’re focusing on apps to help you with writing this month, and software art practice Dark Heartfelt Software makes some of the best. They’ve already had great success with minimalist writing apps Grandview and Launchwrite, which force you to focus on the current word and sentence rather than the entire document. Now they’ve released a new app, Notesdeck, which allows you to edit and consolidate notes across four different cloud services and between your Mac and iOS devices.

We got the chance to interview the man behind Dark Heartfelt, Michael Petruzzo, about his apps and design process. Read on to hear about Notesdeck, software design as art, App Store frustrations, and more.

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The best and worst thing about Gmail is that it’s web-based. Keeping a browser tab open for it is both convenient and annoying. You can set it up with your desktop mail client of choice, of course, but that comes with its own baggage and issues. I like the idea of something in between the two — an app that I can install on my computer that isn’t overloaded with features I don’t use and segregated from my web browsing. MailPop Pro is just the ticket.

It lives in your menubar, is instantly accessible at all times, and improves upon the Gmail web app in a multitude of ways (with one big caveat). Let’s dive in. (more…)

I rely on RSS feeds as my main source of news and interesting stories on the Internet. But I don’t have time to go through every single story blurb to see what I’d like to read in full. I know I’m not alone in my awful noise to reading time ratio. The developers of Cream, a new lightweight RSS reader, seem to get this, and so they baked a recommendation engine right into their app.

Cream sports a modern, clean interface and design, but I’m not sure that it’s quite ready for the prime time. Let’s explore what it does well, and where it falls short. (more…)

Sometimes an app comes along that just wows you with what it does. It makes something incredibly difficult seem effortlessly simple, and you wonder why nobody had done the same thing before — or if they had, why you didn’t already know about it. Sweetie is one of those apps. It’s more a toy than a full-fledged image processing app, but boy does it impress.

Sweetie turns your photos — and any other images you choose — into beautiful ASCII art. The results are spectacular, and I’ve never enjoyed testing an app for review as much as I did here. The interface has some serious issues, which will need to be rectified before Sweetie can really shine, but that shouldn’t stop you from picking it up. (more…)

To say the universe is big would be a gross understatement, so the idea of creating an app that lets people explore outer space must be hugely intimidating. Solar System simulator Cosmographia tackles the subject on a limited scale, by focusing on just the stuff in our galaxy. It has 3D models and star maps, great visual effects, and everything is built from real scientific data.

Cosmographia is akin to a beginner’s guide to the Solar System, and insofar as that it’s an impressive app — well presented and pretty to look at, with no assumptions of prior knowledge. But it doesn’t go deep enough, and you’re likely to leave wanting more.

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Games don’t often show players the future implications of their decisions or the systems behind their interactions, but for Eden Industries’ Waveform this is a core feature. It tasks you with guiding a wave of light safely through levels, layering ever greater complexity on a simple idea.

Colorful visuals, great music, and slick presentation combine to make Waveform a compelling, atmospheric experience well worth your attention, although the game falters and frustrates at times. (more…)

The old days of Mac OS 8 and 9 are now far behind us, but there are certain features I — and many of my fellow veteran Mac users — still miss. Besides the fabled WindowShade, and Finder windows that behaved predictably, I long for the flexibility and power of the Control Strip, Launcher, and Application Menu. These have all been replicated in OS X to some degree, but sometimes the Dock and the new Apple Menu just don’t cut it.

Speedy resembles the old Control Strip, with a narrow bar of icons that each contain a separate menu, but it functions more like a Launcher and Application Menu combined. It offers a list of all running apps and open windows, quick access to your favorite files, folders, or recent/favorite web pages, clipboard snippets, workflows handling, and more. I’ve fallen in love with it. Allow me to explain why. (more…)

Always forgetting little things and minor tasks? Do you walk away from your computer, then come back and wonder what you were about to do? The old-school solution is to write a note on a sticky and attach it to your keyboard or monitor. It turns out there’s an app for that.

Sticky Notifications lets you quickly create reminders that sit on your screen until you dismiss them. It does one thing, and it does it well — with several advanced features for power users and an easy-as interface for everyone else. But is it worth the $3 price tag? Let’s take a look.

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I tend to just take quick glances at my calendar, checking the dates of events coming up or looking to see if I can fit something new in. Sometimes it’s a huge pain to open the app on my phone or computer, so I end up guessing whether I have anything on a particular date — which is a recipe for disaster.

What I need, I realized a few weeks ago, is a good menubar calendar that I can call on at a moment’s notice with a simple click of the mouse or tap of the keyboard. Qbix’s Calendar Plus fits the bill, and to sweeten the deal it includes great customization options. Let’s check it out. (more…)

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